My best friend Nora’s two years long battle with breast cancer and her miraculous recovery from this deadly ailment is truly the stuff of a Hollywood tearjerker. And it is because of this tale of hope and despair that I want to share with you in this Spectrum internet compiled blog post.
Because I believe that it is important to bring such human accounts before the general public. Because people should know (and be comforted by the fact) that being human is ok. That no individual can always be on his or her ‘A game’ at all times. That it’s perfectly fine for them to get bogged down by one illness after another (on occasion), and then stop functioning as they are normally wont to do.
But most importantly, I want people to appreciate the importance of a solid and loving family support system, and how it can literally snatch you back from the merciless claws of death.
Some Thoughts on Our Shared Humanity…
It is no secret that human beings – as per several gospel accounts – are created weak. And if we, as a species, are to have any hope of progressing further with our current trajectory, we need to become each other’s strength. We can’t go on treating each other (and expecting to act and react) like machines.
Our humanity, as such, is our greatest strength, as well as our greatest weakness. It is the refuge which we can retreat to when life inevitably becomes too much to bear. As it allows us to bring to light our grandest internal expressions of compassion and generosity. It enables us to remain steadfast, and often defeat, some of the strongest challenges that come our way. And cancer of any type (particularly breast cancer, in the case of women) certainly qualifies as a striking example of a trial like no other.
For Nora, her own bitter experience with breast cancer started soon after her miscarriage.
She and her husband Dave had been trying to conceive for over three years since their conjugal vows came into legal effect. After repeated attempts, her obstetrician finally diagnosed her with a rare genetic condition that impaired her ovaries from working properly. As a result, her uterine health could not accommodate a developing fetus. With the base on this assessment, the couple was advise to go for adoption. And soon enough, Dave brought a healthy little baby boy to their otherwise happy threshold. Life, for the immediate years thereafter, became a blissful affair for the new mom & dad – who watched their son grow up with eager excitement. And overall glee at their good fortune.
But like with all the various kinds of happiness that befall a person in this life, their newfound luck soon came knocking with a personal tragedy.
As Nora lay feeding her year-old little Anthony on a cold wintery morning in 2016, she noticed a strange looking lump on her right breast. After a hasty self-examination, she asked her husband to book an appointment with the town’s oncologist.
This particular doctor had previously treated her mother for a tumorous lesion in her abdomen. But her mother, unfortunately, had succumbed to her strain of cancer because of the disease had already progressed to an aggressive state. And so fearing the worst, she didn’t want to waste anytime delaying her own diagnosis.
The Cruelest Part
Following a quick biopsy and mammogram, her greatest fear was realized – and she was labeled as a sufferer of stage 3 breast cancer. And as if to add further insult to injury, she was also told that her cancer had already metastasized (spread to other organs through the bloodstream).
Subsequently, her team of consultant medical specialists quickly put her on a combination protocol of strong chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy sessions. She also underwent an emergency hysterectomy and mastectomy procedure, which left her body looking heavily bruised and battered. This was to prevent any resurgence of the tumor after it had finally subsided.
The cruelest part of Nora’s cancer episode. However, was not her diagnosis, or even its physical consequences in terms of her health. It was the psychological toll that the disease inflicted on her mind. That left her feeling completely hopeless and on the verge of a self-inflicted mortality. And when Dave, now faced with the strong possibility of looking after a young child on his own. Saw his wife in her pitiful condition – he himself had to deal with a severe strain of anxiety attacks.
The small family, as it were, was on the brink of a complete emotional collapse – and it wasn’t long before Nora’s lead physician also added a ‘family counseling’ clause to her already long list of medical prescriptions.
What Got Her Through in the End
Two months in after the initial discovery of her lump, and several aggressive treatment regimens later. Nora’s breast cancer battle was far from over. But her daily blood reports started showing some signs of improvement – in terms of her body’s innate ability to fight back against its oppressive cell invaders.
The doctors attributed her gradual recovery to their ‘timely’ medical intervention, but being Nora’s childhood friend, I knew better.
I know, for instance, that she – despite the illness that horribly ravage her body – was completely submerge in a ‘strong love’ with her husband and child. And that at the end of the long, dark tunnel of her disease, she had their loving presence in her life to look forward to.
Being a family woman myself, I know what having such people in one’s earthly existence means. How life, for people like myself and Nora, has by & large a greater pull than death ever could. And I could see this hope spring up in Nora’s eyes whenever her young family visited her in the hospital. I knew then, that she would eventually pull through.
So it didn’t come as much of a surprise when, after the elapse of six months. She got discharged from her ward with a complete recovery.
At the moment, she is dealing with her newfound life one day at a time. She converses regularly with me through her Spectrum Cable Services connection, and takes good care of her diet. Which, as you expect, is now completely wean off of sugar and simple carbohydrates.
And she does a lot of yoga and meditation to keep her mean stress levels down. Which can also come about as a trigger for cancer. Little Anthony is no longer ‘little’, and is about to start primary school soon. And Dave, being the emphatic spouse that he is, is all set on expanding his family with the addition of one more child. Knowing Nora as I do, I’m sure that they’ll most probably adopt a little girl this time around.